erekat - Dan Keinan - Dec 29 2008
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in a file photo. Photo by Dan Keinan
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The Palestinian Authority appeared to be in no rush over the weekend to offer an official and definitive statement on the likelihood of resuming the peace talks in the wake of U.S. President Barack Obama's Mideast address. Senior Palestinian figures also declined to say, after Obama expressed opposition to the idea, whether they would continue efforts toward unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September.

The head of the Palestinian negotiating team, Saeb Erekat, reiterated to Haaretz the Palestinian position: that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold the key to the resumption of talks.

"President Obama spoke of two states on the 1967 borders with exchange of territory. We agree with this position, and we wait for Netanyahu to say that he agrees to it too, otherwise there is no point in talking of a peace process," Erekat said.

Asked whether the Palestinians were disappointed with Obama's opposition to a unilateral declaration of statehood, Erekat said: "We are now in May, and four months remain until September. We are in the stage of consultations with the Arab world and the European states, and the Palestinian leadership will soon meet to discuss the options."

PA President Mahmoud Abbas met yesterday in Ramallah with the U.S. Consul General in Jerusalem, Daniel Rubinstein. Palestinian media outlets said the agenda focused on the peace process in the wake of Obama's address but did not elaborate.

Senior Palestinian sources said the meeting was part of the routine exchanges between Abbas and U.S. officials.

PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina, commenting earlier on Friday's meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, said the prime minister's White House statements constitute a rejection of the president's initiative and of international resolutions.